As blood supplies reach record lows, Minnesota officials urge more donations

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It’s not a new issue, but the last two years have only made it worse. Blood centers are now saying that supply is hitting an all-time low.

On Monday, the increasing desperation for blood donations prompted Senator Amy Klobuchar to hold a roundtable discussion about ways to combat the issue.

Members of the Minnesota Red Cross and Memorial Blood Centers confirming that statistics have dropped to staggering levels, with state blood donations at the lowest in over 10 years.

To put that into perspective, each hospital strives to have a 3-5 day blood supply at all times. This year, many are making do with less than a one day supply of blood.

This causes facilities to postpone surgeries and procedures, forcing healthcare staff to prioritize who can get what kind of help, when.

"We have not had to prioritize surgeries before, that’s new. And with the pandemic and the way things are going, we don’t know where the end of this is. At several hospitals that I work at, that’s very important," said Dr. David Hamlar, a board member at the Red Cross.

That’s not all that’s being impacted. Employees at both blood center organizations say there’s a need for more diversity in blood donors to help with specific diseases.

"One of the things the red cross is prioritizing this year is sickle cell. And sickle cell is about 100,000 African Americans, Black Americans who need blood at any given time. And that blood supply is going down as well," said Hamlar.

The pandemic has caused many to worry about whether donating blood right now is safe, and health officials emphasize the fact that COVID-19 cannot be transferred through blood, and the sterilization of donation sites make it safe to do so.

If you are interested in donating, visit Memorial Blood Center’s website and the Red Cross website to find donation sites near you.